Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Eve

There’s less than three hours left to the year 2008, and time to look forward to 2009


My New Year’s Resolutions are always pretty much variations of the same issues which reflect basic deficiencies in my character, moral fiber and self-esteem:

1. Lose weight

2. Get organized.

Since I had a good dinner, when I got home from work (halibut, given to all the Chieftain’s employees by our new fearless leader, who doubles as an Alaskan fisherman), I’m luckily not very hungry for all the New Years Eve munchies I could dig up, which actually means a head start on resolution #1.

At different times I have been somewhat successful with the losing weight thing, but the syndrome that most people seem to go through -- lose, gain it back, plus a few -- has happened to me more than once. I did shed a few this summer again, but have been pretty stalled.

This new year I may have a jump start and a support group. Most employees of the newspaper could stand to lose some weight (everyone except Hector, five out of six), so we’re sponsoring a Biggest Loser challenge to other businesses and organizations in the county.

There will be a once-a-week weigh in, and everyone will see how much they can collectively lose in three months -- the businesses will pay $1 for each pound lost to the food bank. There's a few details to iron out, but that's the general idea.

A competitive element thrown in (along with way too much publicity) should give me some real incentive to actually drop some real pounds (again); my motivation, to look good with Lily and Addie without carefully posing us and directing the angle of every photograph.

The get-organized resolution, well, I don’t have much hope. But maybe I could break it down into smaller components, like keep the kitchen drawers or my computer desk organized or something. We’ll see. I’ll try to come up with some more concrete resolutions. After all, one year I did quit smoking, so miracles do happen.

Christmas didn’t quite work out as we’d planned. After absolutely crazy winter weather dumped a foot of snow in the Portland area (a white Christmas record!), periodically closed 1-84 and made trying to forecast driving conditions a nightmare, Jenny, Lawrence, Addie and Lily celebrated the holiday at home in Tigard (with Uncle Matt) instead of Joseph.

I missed seeing the joy and excitement of my little granddaughters on Christmas morning and the memory-building time, but wasn’t depressed or anything. It was just a quiet lazy day at home with my pretty Christmas tree, and a trip to Enterprise for the community Christmas dinner (a nice meal and photo op), plus a drive home through our annual real-life Christmas card on Hurricane Creek highway.

Ironically, most of the snow storms missed us here in the Wallowa Mountains and places like Portland and Pendleton had more snow than Joseph. On Saturday after Christmas I took photos of Ferguson Ridge ski area, and they said there was only 18 inches on top (5,800 ft elevation)

New Years Day morning tomorrow, I’m looking forward to taking photos of all the guys who work at the Chieftain (all three of them) jumping into Wallowa Lake for the Polar Bear dip with a bunch of other crazy locals. Last year the lake water temperature was 41 degrees, and the air temperature 14. Brrrr. No way I’d do it, but should be fun watching and taking photos!

Time to take the tree down tomorrow, too. I'll miss it.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Finished 2008 Christmas letter!!

Well, I finally finished this year's Christmas letter, and will probably start sending it out in cards Monday (after I get stamps). Anyone who might read it here is getting an early look. Even though there are always a lot of jokes about Christmas letters (people usually emphasized the good things), I've always enjoyed receiving them and writing them is a way for me to capsulizeing and share a year of my life.

A winter storm is blanketing the area. It only snowed a couple of inches yesterday, but I just talked to my sister Laurie and it's snowing there now, and the forecast is 100 percent for snow in Joseph today.

My son Matt was supposed to carpool with other National Guards guys to La Grande for drill yesterday, but after seeing the forecast, they decided to drill in Woodburn instead. As coincidence would have it, a bomb went off at a bank in Woodburn last night, killing two police officer and making national news. I doubt they called out the National Guard, though. If Matt had come to La Grande (70 miles away) I would have met him there for his unit's family dinner tomorrow afternoon. Since I probably won't see him for Christmas, I'm sorry to miss that chance to give him his presents, etc. He's not a big Christmas fan, though; his big holiday is Halloween.

Finally have the lights on my tree. Am off this afternoon to take photos of Santa after the kids' matinee at OK Theatre, and also Santa, Mrs. Claus and kids in Joseph. Tonight is the Chieftain's Christmas pizza bowling party; it's women vs. men in the bowling arena, and I'm afraid I won't add a bit of clout to the women's team.

Reading my December entries from two years ago makes me think my life is like "Ground Hog's Day" movie at Christmas time.

Here's my 2008 Christmas letter:

Written between Dec. 3 and 13, 2008

In the blink of an eye, another year has passed and Christmas is fast approaching once again. I’ll have to admit that it was a very long blink and it was another eventful year, full of milestones.
For one thing, I celebrated my 60th birthday on July 31 -- that’s a real biggie for someone who once decided that old age started at 50. Jenny had a very nice get-together for me at her house in Tigard, attended by my kids Jenny and Matt, sisters Laurie and Caroline, friend Marilyn, nieces Petra and Andrea, granddaughters Lily and Addie, brother-in-law Pat and son-in-law Lawrence, who presided at the grill in their backyard.
Another milestone: my nephew John Joseph Blanchet (in cowboy hat) married Kristin Lorenzen in a beautiful beach wedding in August near Depot Bay, with the waves creeping closer and closer as they exchanged their vows in front of lots of family and friends. Larry and all four of my sisters were there for the momentous occasion, which included a fun reception in a gorgeous beach house.
I have three new great-nephews and one great-niece born during the year, by far the most ever: Colton (mom Grace, grandma Sylvia), Demetrius (dad Titus, grandma Marianne), Marley (mother Amy, grandpa Larry), and Elyssa (mother Andrea, grandma Laurie).
In February, in the midst of a very, very long winter, I took an annual use-it or lose-it vacation week, spending part of the time with my lovely granddaughters and part enjoying a seaside interlude on the Oregon coast, one of my very favorite destinations.
My second vacation week in June I flew to Washington, D.C., and spent a week sightseeing, seeing Arlington Cemetery, the Capitol, the Holocaust Museum, the war monuments (WWII, Vietnam, Korean), the National Archives, the Library of Congress and on and on. Got caught out in a rainstorm waiting for a bus and got absolutely soaked, finally flagging down a cab I could barely see through streaked glasses. Though I like living in my little town, I also love visiting big cities.
I spent part of my third vacation week helping out Jenny in September after she broke her foot (the night after returning from their ocean-side vacation in North Carolina with Lawrence’s family) and was trying to cope with kids, house and work, unable to walk or drive.
The Herman family visited Joseph for the 4th of July, which included the old-time Independence Day parade in Wallowa and a 1st birthday party for Addie (her birthday is July 2). Addie is such a sunshiney little girl, with an emerging personality that is a joy to watch. Lily, who turned 4 in October, loves being a big sister and is, of course, at the top of her pre-school class. She still reminds me so much of her smart, non-stop talking mom at the same age. It’s so fun being a grandma!!!
Other highlights: a 90th birthday get-together for Aunt La France at Hamleys in Pendleton in June, and the annual Blanchet family campout reunion in August at Hilgaard park, complete with songs around the bonfire with cousin Coyote Joe. The annual ranch LLC meeting was delayed from Memorial Day until September this year because of nephew Dylan’s h.s. graduation, and enjoyed by all us siblings (and many of the younger generation). 2008 was truly a year of family gatherings.
Both my kids are doing well. Jenny keeps busy being one of the best moms ever. She was also promoted at work and has two employees under her in the accounting department; nurtures many close friendships; and writes a wonderful blog, titled “Addie and Lily make Four” on
Matt spent the summer in Joseph, earning rave reviews as #1 breakfast waiter at Wallowa Lake Lodge, adding to a long list of work skills. He was promoted to sergeant in National Guards; so far he hasn’t had to go to a war zone, for which I am thankful. He’s a great uncle and one of Lily and Addie’s very favorite people. He’s back living in Eugene now, about to go to work as a security guard.
My work is as chaotic as ever. We now have only six employees, with one new reporter and our second new editor (who just started) since last November. Another milestone: as of September, I have worked for the Wallowa County Chieftain for 30 years, half of my life. That is so, so hard to believe.
After a wonderful Thanksgiving in Tigard with my whole family, Jenny, Lawrence and girls are traveling to a white Christmas in Joseph this year. I can’t wait!!!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all,Elane (aka Elaine and Lanie)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Snow in Joseph

I still don’t have my Christmas letter finished, my Christmas tree decorated (though it is up in the living room, the top touching my ceiling) or one present wrapped yet.
We did had snow Sunday night and Monday morning, so it is starting to look a lot like Christmas; though there are now big patches where my lawn shows through, there’s a storm on the way this weekend, so I’m hopeful that there will be snow when Lily and Addie arrive on Christmas Eve. I just hope the roads are decent -- sometimes it’s hard to arrange for both.
I remember some pretty hairy trips over to Pendleton and back for the holidays; no real accidents but I did slid into a snow bank a couple of times and recall some white-knuckle driving when I was in the middle of several years of an “icy roads phobia.”
That phobia followed an accident in the early 1980s when a 16-year-old girl slid into me and we both ended up on our tops (unhurt) in the ditch outside Joseph. She tried to pass me on black ice, and kept screaming “he’s going to kill me,” apparently referring to her stepfather and the fact she was late getting home.
Anyway, there’s a lot to do to get ready for Christmas yet, but I’m one of the top “do it at the last minute” champs of all time. I think that’s why I ended up in journalism, I work better and faster under extreme deadline pressure.
Most memorable happenings of the week (so far): Putting out our first paper under new editor Andy, a young but experienced newspaper man with a lot of ideas and enthusiasm for his new job. I’ve learned a lot from all three other new editors of the past five years, and I know there’s a lot to learn from our new fearless leader. Maybe this one will stay!
Another fun experience: Taking photos of the Joseph Elementary School Christmas Concert. Not only did I get some cute photos of a cute program (focusing in on Maddie Nelson and Austin Lynn, in their pajamas for a darling “Twas the Night Before Christmas” recitation/singing segment), but it brought back a lot of memories when my kids were up on that stage, year after year. As usual, there was a packed house of parents, grandparents and everyone else in town.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Last Year's Xmas Letter

Though I still haven't finished my Christmas letter, which I send or e-mail to family and friends whether they like it or not, for 2008, I realized I hadn't posted last year's effort, which gives a blow-by-blow account of my 2007.

So here it is:

December, 2007

Actually I decided to start my Christmas letter in August, so I don’t know how this year will turn out yet, but that makes it kind of exciting.
My whole family, Jenny, Lawrence, Lily and Matt, spent Christmas in Joseph last year. So far they’ve been here for all three of Lily’s Christmases, but because it falls on Tuesday in 2007, they won’t be able to make it this year. Lily didn’t have a Christmas tree at her house last Christmas (because they knew they were coming here), so I left most of the decorating for her on “Lily’s tree.” The fact that the ornaments were all clumped at Lily-level made it all the more special. My special present to her was a pink Fischer-Price digital camera that takes real photos, because she always wanted to get her hands on mine.
The big news of 2007 was the birth of Adeline Faith Herman on July 2, 2007, weighing in at 6 lbs. and 2 ounces. I missed her birth by one day, and it was over a month before I met my beautiful new little granddaughter in person.
In January, I scheduled a vacation for the last week in June (I had to use it by July 1 or lose the vacation time). Addie’s due date was June 27, but since Lily was two weeks early, we didn’t expect her to be late. So I kept very-pregnant Jenny company and spent very quality time with Lily, who had switched from calling me “Grandma Lanie” to “Grammy” by the end of the week (we had lots of fun, though Jenny told me to quit letting her boss me around.)
July and August is always VERY busy at work, and Lawrence’s parents arrived from New Jersey for two weeks to help Jenny and Lawrence out , so it turned out to be toward the end of August before I met sweet, sweet little Addie in person. She is a smiley, beautiful, blue-eyed, almost bald baby.
Work has not been fun this year, because of all the transitions that have gone on. When all the smoke settled, there was me, who had worked at the Chieftain 28-29 years and office manager Cheryl, with six years. At present, everyone else have barely a year or less seniority. It’s been a hard year.
A highlight of the year was the annual Blanchet Ranch LLC meeting and family gathering over Memorial Day weekend. All my siblings were there, and a good representation of nieces and nephews. Jenny and Lawrence didn’t come because of her advanced pregnant state, but Matt came from Eugene, bringing along one of his housemates, Majid from Saudi Arabia, who enjoyed meeting everyone. Another highlight was the wedding of my sister’s oldest son, Titus, to a beautiful young woman named Ruth at the end of June near Salem (they are now living in Korea and expecting a baby in May); her next to oldest son, David, was married to another lovely lady, Zyana, in San Antonio, Texas, in May.
Still another high point : the extended Blanchet Family reunion at Hilegaard State Park. It was fun seeing many of my cousins and their kids. Kim Futter was there with her baby, Dylan, and husband, who met the family for the first time. Both Aunt Cressie (and Uncle Carmon) and Aunt La France were happily there; next year we’re going to plan the reunion around Aunt La France’s 90th birthday in June -- so attendance is mandatory for all generations of the family!!!!

Dec. 2, 2007
Other 2007 happenings: I bought the Chieftain’s old work car, a maroon 2000 Subaru wagon, this spring. My newest ever rig. … I took my third week (and final) week of vacation for the year in October to coincide with Lily’s third birthday (she’s a big girl now) and then spent a relaxing few days in Lincoln City in an off-season room over the ocean.
Matt was a contract wild fire fighter this summer and fall, finishing off with the big fires in California (he drove a truck to the Witch fire in the San Diego area and back with PatRick Inc.); his cousins Dan, Hailey and Andrea from Pendleton, who work for a different outfit, ended up there, also.
Both kids, son-in-law and two granddaughters came for a fun time for Thanksgiving this year, since Christmas seems unlikely.
Work is still topsy-turvy (we moved to a new building in September and a new editor started two weeks ago), but I’m hanging in there. Hope to see you all in 2008,
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year,
Elane (aka Lanie)

Getting ready for Christmas

Well, I took 196 photos yesterday for our next issue (we'll use probably six at the most) of: Fishtrap's Good Book Sale; Handcrafters Bazaar, including Santa with various kids and crying babies; Jingle thru Joseph elf at Lamb's Trading Post and photos of a mule-drawn wagon giving rides on Joseph Main St.; and the Enterprise Winterfest parade, featuring major farm equipment decked out with flashing lights and waving Santas. Whew!
Oh, I forgot a benefit flea market, across Enterprise Main Street from the courthouse in Stage One, where I picked up a few odds and ends; also bought $15 good books for $14.50. Last night instead of whipping my house into Christmas shape, I yielded to temptation and stuck my nose into one of the books, savoring a wealth of words.
Also did a tiny bit of Christmas shopping yesterday. I want to do most of mine in Wallowa County this year, to do my small bit for the local economy, though it's a little hard for Lily and Addie, since their holiday list is made up of Toy's R Us offerings; when I was a kid it was long lists from Montgomery Wards and Sears catalogues. So I also helped Black Friday at the mall and Target along on the day after Thanksgiving.
Speaking of the economy, all of a sudden after a fairly decent summer here despite high gas prices, there are a number of long-time business closing or about to close their doors. D & R Auto dealers (a biggie) and Radio Shack in Enterprise already bit the dust, and OK Theater is due to close at the end of December (personal issues of owners).
If anyone wants to own a great little historic movie theater, which has operated continuously since 1918, there's a gem in Enterprise. It has a couple of apartments and other business spaces attached, and has made brewers' yeast on popcorn a trademark of all kids raised in Wallowa County.
I digress. Getting ready for Christmas: I should finish my annual letter today, and this morning I bought a great $30 8-foot tree from the Joseph High School FFA chapter. Now I just need to re-arrange everything to make it fit in my living room. The Herman family decided not to get a tree this year, so this will be Lily and Addie's special Christmas tree. So I'd better get busy.
So far there's no snow in the valley, though it has reappeared on the mountain-tops. There's only 18 days left before Christmas!!!!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Back again

I can't believe it's been over a year since I wrote anything, a very eventful year.

Instead of the wild weather at the end of 2007, it's been extremely mild this fall, virtually no snow yet on the valley floor and no wild wind storm. Instead we've had a little fog, a little rain and some cold nights.

Jenny is now on blog spot with her blog, "Lily and Addie Make Four", after a couple years on It's a wonderful look at family life, from Jenny's unique viewpoint. She doesn't believe me when I tell her she's a wonderful writer, but it's true. Her ability to tell a story and condense experiences into words is what good writing is all about.
When I signed up to become a follower of her blog, lo and behold, a link appeared for my own old neglected "View from Eaglecap," a circumstance which inspired me to revise and add to the poor thing.

The most memorable happenings of the week: The arrival of our new editor (the last one was here less than a year) and the inauguration of "Lilly and Addie Make Four."

This weekend I'll be taking photos of Christmas stuff (like the Enterprise Winterfest Parade), getting an FFA Christmas tree Sunday and begin whipping my house in shape for a family Christmas in Joseph with the Herman family. I loved spending Thanksgiving with Lily and Addie (and Jenny and Lawrence and Matt) in Tigard, and am looking forward to their holiday visit.
Lily loves snow, so I hope it materializes in time. Joseph usually serves up a white Christmas, but there's no guarantee.
Oh, yes I have to finish my annual Christmas letter (which I will post here) and look for my left-over stock of cards from last year. I think there's a whole unopened box, somewhere.


Saturday, May 17, 2008

Spring finally arrives

I just found this post in my "drafts", so apparently I wrote it this spring and didn't post it. So here it is!!

I usually like winter. It's a good time to hole up and get cosy with a good book on weekends, and I love to watch the snow fall, especially when I don't have to drive in it.

Well, this winter drug out just a little tooooooooo long. Not only was there three feet of snow in my yard most of the season, but I swear I woke up to new snow (which usually melted during the day) every other morning during April and even into May. I got really tired of wearing my tall snowboots this winter -- they are heavy and half of the heel is worn down from over a dozen years of hard use.

And it's been cold. I've been worried that our new editor, who started just as the snow started falling the week after Thanksgiving, would hightail it back to Arizona; he was truly in weather-shock all winter and into spring.

This weekend a heat wave hit the Northwest and after last week with the highs in the 50s it's supposed to get up to 89 today in Joseph. (I think it was high 70s yesterday!) Yesterday it was 101 somewhere on the Oregon coast, by far a record, and the newscaster was saying it was probably a first that it hit 101 here this season before in Phoenix in Arizona.

Anyway, instead of curling up with a good book, I should be out mowing the rapidly-growing grass, though unfortunately the lawn mower didn't start the last time I tried to start it last fall.